The circumstances we currently find ourselves in with COVID-19 are certainly unprecedented.

Social distancing and stay-at-home mean that transactions that could traditionally be face to face are now no longer possible.  From shopping to undertaking legal transactions. From applying for benefits to volunteering. We are seeing the demise of cash, as shops and delivery services no longer want to handle dirty paper money. Contactless limits are being raised to reduce the use of keypads. Brave retail staff are protected by a hastily installed shield of plastic.

The need for a way to present trust – rapidly and remotely – is clearly underlined.

There is a growing list of urgent needs that require trust to be established, many with significant negative consequences if “bad actors” get into the ecosystem:

  • Rapidly (re)employing healthcare workers to support the fight against coronavirus.
  • Enlisting volunteers to help us all through these testing times, be that to support the health service or more community-based support for those unable to access vital services.
  • Urgently getting benefits to those who need them due to lost income.
  • Creating “contact apps” to warn people they may have been exposed to the virus and should therefore self-isolate to protect others.
  • Immunisation or Immunity Passports to allow those who are no longer at risk and present no risk to others to start to return to normal life.

The right level of Identity Trust must be established to meet each of these needs.

These are urgent needs. To meet this urgency should the bar for identity verification and authentication be lowered at this time? Ideally not. By leveraging technology in innovative ways, we can ensure the identity verification and authentication undertaken is of the requisite quality.

As an identity community we should work together to help governments and other organisations meet their identity needs rapidly and to a high standard.

OIX is here to help.

If we do this well now, we prove the value that trusted digital identities can offer in the longer term.

The benefits of trusted digital identities are now clearer than ever.

Nick Mothershaw
Chair and Chief Executive, Open Identity Exchange